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People berating others on these forums for speaking the truth.

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by AnonL, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. AnonL

    AnonL New commenter

    Can we please respect people's experiences and sentiments on the board. I have sseen a couple of examples of the truth being spoken and the poster being shot down in flames.
    This is not fair at all.
    These forums should allow people to speak the truth, rather than being berated by phoneys who claim that they are getting lots of work when it is obvious that the reality is very different.
    Thank you.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    My heart goes out to all who have written these past few weeks/months on these forums about the lack of work. From personal experience, I have experienced the effects of a downturn in my husband's business which has affected us badly; so I really do understand what it is like to see a livelihood diminish. My husband's business is getting better, but unlikely to ever be what it once was. While he is still keeping the business going, he has started to supplement it with other things like network marketing. This all happened to us in our fifties- not a good time to start over. This all happened about 7 years ago when the recession started to kick in.

    I have been blessed with enough work for this week, but who knows about next week on supply unless you are willing to take on long term contracts. Supply even at the best of times is precarious.

    I agree that everyone should be entitled to their views and not be berated. There are, however, people who get a lot of work and that is just the way it is: they live in an area with a lot of supply, or have skills that schools need, are willing to travel or willing to gomto the most challenging schools. Many of the people with a lot of work have it because they are not too picky and will do a lot of the work others turn away. I could work every day if I went to the most challenging schools. I've chosen not to for the time being because it was starting to affect my health.

    So, I would say the reality is that many are finding supply scarce at the moment, but there are those who do have work. We need to support everyone and be sensitive to their situation. Supply is hard work even at the best of times.
    Lara mfl 05 and AnonL like this.
  3. AnonL

    AnonL New commenter

    Exactly Pepper. Brilliantly put.

    People do need to be sensitive for sure. Instead of making inane and hurtful quasi-adolescent statements as I have seen such as 'with grammar like that no wonder you do not get any work', people could be more supportive and if they are getting work, offer advice on how they have managed to get by, rather than childishly berating people for voicing their opinion which we are all entitled to.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  4. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Some people are getting enough work though. The important thing to remember here is that people's needs are different. Some rely on supply teaching entirely for their income; others are doing it for a part-time income or to supplement other work. Therefore, perspectives on what constitutes 'enough' are very different.
    Lara mfl 05, PizzoCalabro and pepper5 like this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Well said Eva

    Everyone's needs are different.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  6. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    To claim that no-one is getting work would be just as wrong as stating that everyone is. Some are, some aren't.
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. AnonL

    AnonL New commenter

    I hate to disappoint you, but most are getting significantly less this year than in previous years.
    Pepper is right, perhaps you and others who are generating more work need to be congratulated, in that you have adopted a businesslike approach and accepted that getting work is not going to be automatic. You need to completely keep abreast of needs and desires within schools and train yourself and market yourself accordingly. Until this year, supply was a gravy train that anyone could jump on with a teaching qualification, now like any business however you need to run an ultimate tight ship to get repeat bookings. It is significantly harder and more stressful than being a permanent teacher. Anyone who thinks that it is going to be a free for all and easy if they leave full time for supply is utterly deluded.
    In the past you had eccentric supply teachers who dished out work and sat and did nothing and basically just where ticking a box, these people could get work in the past whereas now they could not. Schools now want the cream of what's on offer due to the colossal surplus of supply and the hideously competitive market it has become. You now have to be phenomenal at business sense and classroom management to get repeat bookings.
  8. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Sorry, but the only nastiness and negativity I've personally seen has been the rather rude and abrupt tone in the OP's posts.

    One thing that's clear from this forum is that experiences vary greatly depending on region, experience, agency and subject. Calling people 'deluded' is not only unhelpful, it's clearly ridiculous given that you cannot claim to understand each individual's situation.
    Lara mfl 05 and pepper5 like this.
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I locked a thread this evening where there were some posts in breach of the T&C.

    Please remain courteous, folks!

    Best wishes

  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    This is Eva.
    Eva reads things on the internet that she disagrees with.
    Eva is capable of engaging in discussion without resorting to petty bickering.
    Eva is smart.
    Be like Eva.
    PizzoCalabro and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    For anyone trying to increase the amount of work they are getting, I would suggest the following:

    1. Think about increasing the distance you will travel
    2. Widen the scope of the year groups you will teach ( teach both primary and secondary)
    3. Take courses to widen the skill set youncan offer to schools
    4. Contact any schools directly that you haven't gone to through an agency
    5. Consider taking a specialist behaviour management course to enable you to work at the most challenging schools
    6. If you don't have any barriers to relocating, consider moving to an area where more supply is available even if only on a temporary basis.
    PizzoCalabro likes this.
  12. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I would suggest that if you really need to relocate just to get supply teaching, you're probably better off finding another source of employment, but everyone has different needs.

    I'd add to that list

    7) When you're in school, make a point of finding the cover organiser person and introducing yourself, tell them your availability and that you'd like to come back regularly.
    8) Find the HOD of your specialist subject and do the same - HODs love when they find a good teacher who's a specialist in their subject, especially if you are English, Maths or Science.
    9) Make a point of assembling the work done during the day and handing it personally to the HOD or person responsible, rather than just leaving a pile on the desk.
    10) Be a breath of fresh air in an around the school. I've been in a school this week where the HOD is clearly lovely but was fearful of having her colleague off sick for up to 4 weeks - it's a very small department. I've made a point of being particularly cheerful and breezy and as a result she has already called over to a department who are looking for a temp position to be filled and recommended me.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    No one has any figures on this. There is no objective evidence other than a dozen or so posts on this forum that there is significantly less work for most supply teachers. Bearing in mind that the total supply market in the UK nets well in excess of £1bn annually, it stands to reason that someone definitely must be out there working and earning commission for the agencies. The best source of information on schools staffing, staffing levels and staff requirements is Data for Education Info. based at Oxford University, who will, as yet, not have collated enough information to establish a reliable statistic of the supply situation at this very minute. There really is no other reliable source. Second best is probably the NUT whose research is probably most up to date but that is now nearly a year out of date and only polls NUT members.
    The evidence is just not solid enough to be able to say anything conclusive.
    There appears to be an oversupply of staff on the books at agencies but that was always the case. About three years ago, I received a speculative email from an agency I wasn't enrolled with which had accidentally left the distribution list visible. There were nearly 3,000 names for a notification of one job. The list went on for pages.
    It's not clear if the bottleneck, if there is one, is at the supply or demand end of the chain. As has been mentioned in previous posts, there is a suspicion that fewer teachers are taking sick leave as an increasing number of heads are anxious to slim down their staff lists and appear to be victimising staff who take time off. The growth of academies who do not have to employ qualified teachers at all could have contributed to a reduction in the use of supply teachers. Schools are also amalgamating classes as teachers leave so that those teachers who are left are teaching much larger groups. Also, agencies have cashed in on the so-called teacher shortage and recruited overseas qualified teachers and imported them to UK cities. They are paid much lower rates on guaranteed work contracts so other staff on their books are being passed over.
    There are no figures available to show how many of these teachers there are.
    I do a lot of research on the topic of school staffing, agencies and supply teachers for my union and I am probably as close to the truth as anyone, so speaking the truth as I see it is not going to appeal to those who see it differently even though I am pretty confident of a few things.
    About four years ago I had a really long fallow period where there was absolutely no call for me. Whether there was no work at all is less clear as others report being very busy back then.
    Parallax vision can make one's own situation seem to be the norm and finding a number of people who share the same experience can create the impression of a trend.
    Supply has never been a gravy train. Nor has any job in any sector of employment.
    PizzoCalabro and pepper5 like this.
  14. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    nearmiss and eva

    Thank you for the tips and further information regarding how to view the possible trend of less work for supply teachers.

    nearmiss your last point is particularly relevant. Supply has never been a lucrative business and other sectors have been affected as well.

    Let us hope this is a blip for those who are finding it difficult to find work and they are back to work soon whether in supply or another field.

    It is a cliché I know but we are really all in the same boat to some extent. I was busy last week, but who knows about this week?
  15. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    "but most are getting significantly less this year than in previous years"

    Where is the data to support this, please?

    There is a difference between 'data', and taking your own circumstances and experiences and someone you know and then extrapolating it to create a national picture!


    From the analysis done by the Guardian, Labour and most importantly a Select Committee, it seems that the supply industry is more buoyant that it has been in years.

    I am sure that many supply teachers are having a rough year just as I'm sure that many are not. That is how business works, any business. The key for businesses who are struggling is to reassess their business model and make changes. It is no good constantly whinging and blaming the Government, agencies, schools, Johnny Foreigner, Cover Supervisors etc. You need to make changes e.g. to the skills you offer, to your location, to your attitude, to your approach, to the way you deal with schools etc etc. If you can't or won't adapt your business as the market changes, then of course your business may well fail, but that is down to you.

    By the way, business is absolutely booming for supply teachers between Croydon and Brighton, along the coast to Margate and round to the Dartford tunnel. Rates are very high for those who avoid agencies, demand outstrips supply by a huge margin and you can earn much more as a Supply Teacher here in this area than a main scale teacher, and you have less responsibility, and you can take extra breaks when you need to. I love the last three or four Governments. They are all so inept that it has provided a lot of opportunities!
  16. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    @pixiewixiepixie: I keep in touch with two ex-colleagues who moved to the areas you mentioned; one to Worthing and the other near Whitstable. Both are ex-science teachers, and both have tried supply teaching to supplement their pensions but neither has had much luck!
  17. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    What are the names of the limited companies they set up and their website addresses? I'll take a look at the websites they have no doubt set up to market themselves directly to schools.

    Of course, I can't comment on any individual as everyone is different with their own circumstances but ....

    "The key for businesses who are struggling is to reassess their business model and make changes. It is no good constantly whinging and blaming the Government, agencies, schools, Johnny Foreigner, Cover Supervisors etc. You need to make changes e.g. to the skills you offer, to your location, to your attitude, to your approach, to the way you deal with schools etc etc. If you can't or won't adapt your business as the market changes, then of course your business may well fail, but that is down to you."

    They really are doing something wrong if they are secondary Physics / Chemistry teachers with excellent experiences, have been teaching a few years and have solid references. Biology is another matter, as there are plenty of biology teachers about to make recruitment no problem.

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